The Life of H. H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer

H.H. Holmes was arguably the first serial killer in American history. His powerful charisma and charm seemed to coax his victims into the arms of their inevitable deaths. He preyed on the weaknesses of young women in a way that kept him from being discovered.

A man of unquestionable allurement, H.H. Holmes weakened his victim by simply looking her in the eye. His deep and mysterious “blue gaze” was something that women fawned over(65). Bystanders like Ned Connor, Julia’s husband and Gertie’s brother, described Holmes as “inordinarily attentive” and an extremely successful entrepreneur for his age (101).

Although Ned seemed suspicious of the man at times, Holmes brilliantly threw him off with kind gestures and artificial feelings of sympathy. To a young woman Holmes was something new and exciting. He was very physical, constantly “breaking the rules of intimacy” which led women like Myrta Z. Belknap to feel taken aback. Belknap once claimed “he had a gentle heart.

He adored children and animals (64).” Holmes preyed on vulnerability. It was as if a young woman was a toy to manipulate until he got bored and had to get rid of her and move to the next. He masked his evil tendencies with false emotion that ultimately fooled everyone.

Throughout the novel, Holmes kept composure as he befriended and manipulated the feelings of his guests. He was a clever man who used numerous false names in order to swindle businesses and workers that built his “murder castle”. C.E.. Davis, a man hired to manage Holmes’s jewelry counter described him as “the smoothest man |he] ever saw (72)”.

Get quality help now
Dr. Karlyna PhD

Proficient in: History

4.7 (235)

“ Amazing writer! I am really satisfied with her work. An excellent price as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Davis told stories of how Holmes dealt with creditors who would walk into the pharmacy seething and leave with a smile. Holmes not only manipulated and charmed the women he murdered, but also used his smooth charisma on the men he defrauded. In some aspects, Holmes was just lucky.

The police force in Chicago was not strong, with people going missing daily. The few people that did find him odd never acted on their suspicions, letting there opinions be heard only after his conviction of murder. Holmes story marked the end of a century in many ways. The fair was over, a fair that the world has not been able to top since. After Holmes’s conviction, the newspapers blasted Chicago’s police force, ultimately setting up a much tighter security system in all large cities of America (370). No longer did people trust their neighbors like before. Americans became much more aware of how cruel individuals could be. adding to paranoia of what can not be understood In the end. Holmes destroyed the very fabric of what he created.

Cite this page

The Life of H. H. Holmes, America's First Serial Killer. (2022, Apr 20). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7